With more than a million followers on Instagram, James Smith has become an internet sensation over the past nine years, delivering no-nonsense fitness and nutrition advice.
On his recent world tour, he shared his wisdom with thousands of people. And now his third book, How To Be Confident, promises to change your mindset in only 100 minutes.
“I see confidence as a way to open doors, to be inquisitive, to take more risks, but ultimately it is a belief in yourself, to back yourself in whatever it is you need to back yourself in,” James says.
Here, James shares the tools to build confidence and take steps to a happier, healthier life…
Step out of your comfort zone
It might seem like a tough task to some, but James reveals that it is possible to use the 100-minute timeframe to work out what your objectives are and what you are willing to do to achieve them.
He says, “Let’s say you haven’t got the confidence to go to the gym and get a gym membership and train and be in there for an hour. Have you got enough confidence to ask to be shown around instead? Have you got enough confidence to go in and do one exercise?”
If you do want to tackle a real-life task in the same amount of time, James recommends asking for 10% off the next cup of coffee you get at a café. You might feel a bit silly and get rejected but that’s the point of the task – it’s all about taking the initiative and having the nerve to do something you would not normally attempt.
Close open loops
The idea is that loops are opened when you take action and closed when you get a resolution to the situation, even if it is not quite what you expected. It relates to all aspects of life, even cliffhangers in television shows, as loops only close when you find out what happens. James says, “Every time you have an inclination to express how you feel, you’re opening a loop in your mind.”
Even finding the love of your life and marrying them means you open and close a loop, as you free up mental resources stressing about who you are going to spend the rest of your life with. Closing loops when they arise results in people gradually becoming more confident, adds James.
Ditch the dating apps
Ditching the dating apps is another way to tackle confidence issues head-on, says James. Getting rid of apps pushes you to see if you can meet people organically somewhere such as at a bus stop or a party. It also gives you a great sense of achievement and makes you feel brave, knowing that you managed to put yourself out there.
“If you’re going to rely heavily on technology to do the hard work for you, doing something else – say asking your boss to take on more responsibility – might seem more difficult,” says James. “If people were to refrain from using dating apps they’d have to put themselves out there and those things could then transfer to other aspects of life.”
Have a better relationship with failure
Improving your relationship with failure is another tool that can be both useful and powerful for becoming more confident. It means that if a difficult situation arises, you are not as bothered if it goes wrong. For example, in a boxing match not every shot will hit an opponent, but boxers still keep fighting.
And while some of us will face rejection in our lives from prospective partners, confident people do not let the failure get to them. Instead, they persevere until they find the right person. To change our mindsets on failure, James says, “We shouldn’t be upset when things don’t go our way, but instead be happy that we at least made an attempt to improve our situation.”
Visualise yourself doing a tough task
Imagining yourself doing a tough task is often an easy way to achieve it and become more self-assured. For example, if you are preparing to do spoken word poetry, it benefits you to visualise the crowd. It is always useful to ponder what you are going to say and do.
James adds, “I shower before most important videos I film to give myself five or 10 minutes to do the mental reps and visualisation practice necessary to get my point across in the best manner possible.”
Surprisingly, James does not describe himself as a confident person, but says knocking on doors for a gas and electricity company 10 years ago before he burst onto the fitness scene helped him. “I’m just completely fine to fail and I think that’s why people think I’m confident,” he says.
How To Be Confident by James Smith (Harper Collins, £9.99)
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